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Dhaka Tribune

Indo-Pacific: Shahriar says healthy competition promotes growth, leads to prosperity

Bangladesh believes any international dispute can be settled through peaceful means, says the state minister

Update : 21 Jan 2023, 07:21 PM

State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam on Saturday said Bangladesh has been conducting “constructive engagement” with the countries in Indo-Pacific region in a “fair, friendly, equitable and inclusive” manner.

He appreciated the think tanks like the Bangladesh Center for Indo-Pacific Affairs which are proactively contributing to shaping the country's possible approach to this emerging area of interest.

“We will hopefully come out with our own strategy (on Indo-Pacific) very soon. And I believe that will be in line with our international partners and adhering to an inclusive approach to the Indo-Pacific largely speaking,” said the state minister.

He was speaking as the chief guest at a dialogue on “Bangladesh and the Indo-Pacific Collaboration: Priority Issues and Concerns” at a Dhaka hotel.

Bangladesh Center for Indo-Pacific Affairs and Department of International Relations, Jahangirnagar University hosted the dialogue moderated by Bangladesh Center for Indo-Pacific Affairs Executive Director Professor Shahab Enam Khan.

Secretary, Maritime Affairs Unit (MAU) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Rear Admiral (Retd) Md Khurshed Alam, Brig Gen (retd) M Sakhawat Hussain and UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh Gwyn Lewis, among others, spoke.

Shahriar said there is no denying that the Indo-Pacific region has become a major driver of global growth and competition among the countries for their share in this growth bonanza is only natural.

Highlighting the importance of healthy competition, he said they are also witnessing a “heightening of strategic competition” in the region among some major actors.

Talking about competition, the state minister said healthy competition of course promotes growth which leads to prosperity and eradication of poverty, the all-important enemy of developing countries.

He said pulling their people out of poverty is a cornerstone of the domestic and foreign policy of Bangladesh. “Economic diplomacy, therefore, occupies a large space of our external engagement.”

“It is imperative that we continue to promote trade for our continued development. Rules-based engagement in the region is pivotal for prosperity, of not just the region but the whole world,” he said, adding that competitions in the region need to be managed responsibly.

Shahriar said Bangladesh believes that any international dispute can be settled through peaceful means upholding international laws.

“With the principles of the UN Charter at its core, I don't see any reason for not being able to manage competitions in the Indo-Pacific responsibly and peacefully,” he said.

He said they have reminded their friends, especially friends from the media that to make no mistakes. “The vision is not about joining any particular international group or alliance as such.”

“But I think there is still confusion, but some of the recent visits and clarification made by our friends will hopefully iron out any confusion that you might have,” Shahriar said, adding that this is more about having their principles stand on a geostrategic location of interest.

Referring to the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, the state minister said Bangladesh is yet to sign or agree to any free trade agreement (FTA) that goes on to suggest that Bangladesh has some capacity issues in negotiating.

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